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Old 13th March 2010, 10:37   #31
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Default Day 7: Rest day at Roopangarh!

Its rest day today...for some inexplicable reason...I had decided to leave out Jaipur from my itinerary and take a rest day at Roopangarh. We left from Bikaner at around 8pm. The route I had charted off google was a bit sketchy so asked around a lot after Nagaur where we had a breakfast of heavenly kachoris and tea at a roadside dhaba, was directed through interior roads by the locals

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-early-morning-drive.jpg


Essentially, the route is Bikaner-Nagaur-Deh-Jayal-Tarneu-Khatu-Makrana-Parbatsar-Roopangarh, all narrow (sometimes even single lane, passing through "10 hut" villages) roads but the village scenery is awesome, we were told that this was Bishnoi country.

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Saw some neelgai, blackbucks, lots of peacocks and antelopes.
It was like a Bishnoi village tour.

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Reached Roopangarh by 1pm. Its a 16th century fort with a palace in front. Had booked the Zenana mahal or the Queens suite, it had 2 levels was huge. We were told that Prince Charles, Sting and lately Salman Khan has stayed there. it is a magnificient suite,a royal experince. We were the only guests and were allowed a free run of the place.

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Later, we chilled out on the private terrace watching the peacocks and the sunset.

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Today being Mahashivratri, lunch and dinner were both veg...but the food was good, had Govind Gatte...essentially gatte stuffed with dry fruits.
Catched up on some TV, had a early dinner and tucked in for a good nights sleep.Its Ajmer and Pushkar tomorrow.
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Old 13th March 2010, 11:19   #32
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Default Day 8 : Pushkar and Ajmer Dargah

Woke up in time for the sunrise at Roopangarh ...a very nice rural setting..peacocks all over the place,

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-sunrise-over-roopangarh-optimized.jpg


There were around 20 peacocks and peahens on the TV tower...you would amazed at how effortlessly peacocks can fly and glide over a distance

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Had a leisurely breakfast and then moved onto Phoolmahal Palace at Kishangarh about 30 kms away. This palace too like Roopangarh, is owned by the Maharja of Kishangarh and is set in the backdrop of an ancient fort.

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-phoolmahal-entrance.jpg

The room was set in the main dome and had a 270 degree panoramic view.

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We then left for Ajmer to visit the Dargah, Its very congested and the folks there have come up with an ingenious idea for parking...they have converted shops and building compounds into parking slots and charge 100 bucks!!

We knew a trustee of the place and were prioritised in the queue, took the khwaja's blessings and then left for Pushkar. It was "pitru amavasya" an auspicious day, we visited the sarovar ghats, did a small puja through a priest and went to the Brahma Temple.

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Coming back to Kishangarh, we shopped for some marble artifacts. Had a nice spicy dinner in a huge dining hall adorned with traditional rajasthani paintings on the wall and went off to sleep.

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Will try to check out Ranakpur and check in at Udaipur for the night tommorrow!!
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Old 13th March 2010, 12:10   #33
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Default Day 9 : Temple Tour!!!

Woke up early and started towards Udaipur at around 8am after breakfast. We decided to visit the Jain temples at Ranakpur

The route was Ajmer-Beawer-Bhim-Gomti-Charbhujaji-Sadri-Ranakpur. Road was entirely a 2 lane deal, with construction at some places. Progress was slower and reached Ranakpur by 12pm. The jain temples have some amzing artwork and seem to be entirely carved out of marble...each pillar, each dome and every facade is unique. The pictures will talk better...

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-ranakpur-exterior-.jpg

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This surya temple is the oldest in the complex said to be 1400 yrs old!

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This is a recurring sculpture of the "Wishing Tree" or Kalpvriksha in many jain temples across Rajasthan

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-kalpvriksha-ranakpur.jpg


This too, is a recurring sculpture of the "Yakshya" in many jain temples across Rajasthan mainly showed as holding up structures atop pillars

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-yakshya-1.jpg

From Ranakpur, we moved back to Gomti since we wanted to visit Shreenathji at Nathdwara.

Hired a guide there since it was very confusing, people told us that darshan opens 8 times a day and for only 15 mins at a time...reached just in the nick of time since the darshan was just about to begin. Our guide seemed to be the local goon, he pushed around a lot of people, winked at the security and voila we were at the front of the line. Had a quick but nice Darshan.

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-nathdwara-entrance.jpg

Then wifey chanced upon a signboard directing Haldighati at 16kms...she was adamant on going there. Well, so we diverted and went there..it is a small muesuem and a panoramic vantage point with a huge Rana Pratap and Chetak statue.

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From haldighati, I came back to Nathdwara since we also decided to visit Eklingji. Eklingji is 25 kms from Nathdwara and around 15 kms from Udaipur. Its a 1200 year old temple. Seems pretty ancient and is a collection of around 56 temples. Had a nice darshan with aarti here.

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-eklingji-entrance.jpg

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It was already 6.30 pm. Moved to Udaipur, reached Fatehsagar Lake and checked into Inderprakash Haveli. Had a nice heavy dinner and crashed out for the night. Its Udaipur tommorrow.
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Old 13th March 2010, 12:58   #34
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Being a cat, I'm not sure if I would have been allowed inside the Rat Temple

Are we supposed to eat the Prasadam, that those rats were nibbling on? And I wonder how the rat population is controlled at the temple. Rats are more prolific than rabbits when it comes to reproduction.
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Old 13th March 2010, 14:25   #35
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I have a friend who decides to visit a temple based on the prasadam
they provide
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Old 13th March 2010, 14:41   #36
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Default Day 10 : Updaipur...

Woke up easy and had a nice heavy paratha breakfast. Had booked a suite at Inderprakash Haveli for one night and at Rampratap Palace for the 2nd...both are run by the same family, some prince again!

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Moved to Rampratap Palace a few minutes away since we had booked this place for the day. Dumped the luggage, the hotel guys advised us to take a rick to the city palace since the roads are narrow and confusing. We took a guided tour of the palace, its quite huge like the others and views of the city are amazing. Most exhibits pale in comparison to Mehrangarh and Junagarh forts. However, views of Jagmandir and Lake Palace are nice.

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There was a huge wedding of some zillionaires scheduled at the city palace for the evening and preparations were in full flow.

Marriage preparations in full swing!!...was told this was for the Sangeet ceremony, 12000 bucks a plate, 2000 guets invited and Hrithik was gonna peform in the evening....
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It was real lavish but the sad part was that they had taken over Jagmandir for some part of the wedding rituals and my idea of having lunch there vaporised also we couldnt take a boatride through the city palace (its a bit expensive at 375 per head but am told its worth the deal).

The Jagadish Mandir is just next to the city, we had a nice darshan and attended the afternoon arti.

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We then decided to take a ropeway ride from behind the city palace since the boating was closed. The views are great. A 360 degree view of Udaipur city with Pichola lake in the foreground.

All 3 landmarks in one pic!
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Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-jagmandir-lakepalace.jpg

Coming down, we realised that the private boating was on, so we go onto a motor boat and took a 30 min ride across Pichola. It offered nice views of the city palace, Jagmandir and the lake palace.

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Then we decided to have lunch at the Garden Hotel and then visit the car collection there. Lunch comprising of Lal maans and a beer was nice but the car collection took the cake. Its a mesmerizing collection and the guide was knowledgable. He was quite catty and kept asking questions about various cars...some below!!

1) RR emblem name ( i got this one right!!)
2) The RR emblem color was red till 1931, why is it black henceforth?
3) Which company produced the Rambler car?
4) why are the Headlights facing down next to the logo on the jeep?

will continue posting in the next post...guess there is a restriction on the number of pics per post!
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Old 13th March 2010, 15:01   #37
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Default Day 10 : Udaipur continued...

Garden Hotel...Royal buggy!

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-garden-royal-buggy.jpg

We had gone nuts clicking pics at all the places and the camera battery died on us. So we decided to take a rick back to the hotel to charge the camera and give some rest to our tired legs. The hotel guys told us that entry to the monsoon palace is shut by 5pm so we were already late and saheliyon ki bari is no more than some fountains and a garden so we thought of giving it a miss and I catched some of the India-SA Day 2 highlights.

The hotel has a separate dining area called RajBaagh, its a nice manicured lawn by the lake and they have some neat vintage cars and bikes in the garage.

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They had arranged for dinner there under a tent with a nice bonfire. The setting was good and the food too was tasty. Came back and crashed out for the night!!

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Its Mount Abu tomorrow.
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Old 13th March 2010, 17:30   #38
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Some of the photos are really good here. Let me be the first to rate! I loved the squirrel and peacock photos!
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Old 13th March 2010, 17:50   #39
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Default Day 11 : Mount Abu

Its gonna be a relatively easy drive today, left from udaipur at around 10am, its a 4 lane highway upto Abu Road from Udaipur but lots of diversions due to construction or landslides.

Rampratap Palace Exterior
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On reaching Abu Road at around 1pm, we thought of visiting Ambaji before moving to Mount Abu. Its a straight road to Ambaji from the highway but since we had moved into Abu Road we had to take some interior roads and reach the highway again. Ambaji is just across the Rajasthan border in Gujrat. The temple is quite huge but the darshan was quick since it was not crowded.

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From Ambaji we turned back and moved to Mount Abu and checked into Udaigarh by 2.30pm (a quaint little centrally located place on a hillock with nice views of the town).

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-view-udaigarh.jpg

We rested a bit and then went down into town for lunch. Then thought of visiting Dilwara Temple. Its just around 3 kms from the town centre. The sculptures and history of the place is mesmerizing. It had some of best marble carvings among all places we had seen until now. Its a must see and is said to match the Taj Mahal by many...Personally, I feel the Taj is in a different league

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-delwara-entrance.jpg

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We then came back to the hotel...rested a bit and in the evening went down to Nakki Lake, nothing to write about...a small garden and a lake with some boats around it...roamed the market for a bit of shopping, had dinner at Sankalp, which is a south indian dosa diner chain.Amazing paper dosas and chutneys.

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Dinner done...we came back to the hotel...did some stargazing in the lawns and crashed for the night.
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Old 13th March 2010, 18:16   #40
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Default Day 12 : Mount Abu

It was chilly and very cosy and we hated to get out of bed. It was almost 11 by the time we got out and went down to the market.

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-udaigarh.jpg

Today I decided to leave the car at the hotel and take a bike on hire. Its pretty cheap and convenient as the roads are quite narrow here.

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-udaigarh-bike.jpg

We rode over to GuruShikhar around 18kms from Mount Abu, the raod is beautiful. From the parking, its quite a climb almost 350 steps but the views are amazing, almost like from an airplane.

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Coming down from gurushikhar, there is a diversion for Aachalgarh which too is an ancient Shiva temple, there is no shivling here but a deep hole which the pandit told us is insatiable however much water you pour in..it just doesnt fill up. The idols made of an composite called "Sphatik" are unique too (seem to be made of black stone but when the priest held a match behind the idol, it shone up and looked like it was made of gold!!

No pics allowed inside Achalgarh temple but saw these 3 buffaloes on the banks of a pond outside the temple. I dont recollect the legend attached to it...
Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-achalgarh.jpg

Coming back, we had dal baati churma at Arbuda restaurant. Its a very unique dish and very delicious too. Then we rode the bike back to the hotel and took a small nap till around 5pm and then left towards the sunset point. The views are amazing from here too but the skies were cloudy and it wasnt much of a sunset...it just dissolved into the clouds.

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We came back to the hotel, freshened up and the it was back to the market for some more shopping, gave back the bike and went to Sankalp again for Bisi Bele Bhath....somewhat like dal khichdi but very tasty. The night was very chilly and the stars were out in full force...went back to the hotel, watched some tv and dozed off...homeward bound tomorrow.
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Old 13th March 2010, 18:21   #41
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Default Day 13 : Homeward Bound!!

Had a liesurely breakfast and then started towards Mumbai at around 11am.

The route is fairly simple..Mount Abu- Ahemdabad-Vadodara-Mumbai. Its a 4 lane highway to Ahemdabad after which one needs to take the Sardar Patel ring road for around 30 kms before joining the Vadodara expressway.

From Vadodara it was comparitively slow moving as trucks were abundant. Stopped a couple of times for brunch and decided to extend the holiday by stopping over at our weekend home at Vasai.

Had a nice chinese dinner (missed it in Rajasthan!) and wifey has some pasta before retiring for the night. The end of an awesome road holiday!!!

Royal Rajasthan - A 4200km road trip through Rajasthan-end.jpg
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Old 14th March 2010, 00:59   #42
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Amazing log. Loved every bit of it. Almost did the same circuit (Ajmer, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner) from Delhi in December.
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Old 14th March 2010, 06:24   #43
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Nice trip , Wonderful car & superb pictures... A package Journey!!
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Old 14th March 2010, 07:00   #44
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Great travelogue!! Loved every part of it
BTW if its ok can you share what was the total expense for the entire travel trip including everything. It will really help the planning for trips for people like me who would like to do Rajasthan darshan sometime in furture.
Second regarding the hotels what and how did you choose? Did you book in advance or just walk up to the reception??
Also dint ask how is the comfort of the seats of the xylo? I have a tata safari and though the vehicle is great I am fed up with the seat especially the front 2, so I am thinking for a swap and will be choosing between the Xylo or the innova?
Your advise will be really helpful, especially when I am nursing a back issue???
Cheers
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Old 14th March 2010, 09:44   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by harjeev View Post
Great travelogue!! Loved every part of it
BTW if its ok can you share what was the total expense for the entire travel trip including everything. It will really help the planning for trips for people like me who would like to do Rajasthan darshan sometime in furture.
Second regarding the hotels what and how did you choose? Did you book in advance or just walk up to the reception??
Also dint ask how is the comfort of the seats of the xylo? I have a tata safari and though the vehicle is great I am fed up with the seat especially the front 2, so I am thinking for a swap and will be choosing between the Xylo or the innova?
Your advise will be really helpful, especially when I am nursing a back issue???
Cheers

Well..dunno if I should spell out the expenses here but yes, could have had an international holiday cheaper than this one!!

About the hotels, I prererred to stay in heritage hotels and hence booked the best 'VFM' I could find on the net. I booked each place atleast a month in advance and i can say I got bang for my bucks. At most places, we were treated like royalty. The experience of staying 300-400 year old havelis really adds to the allure of visiting Rajasthan. Roopangarh Palace is a destination by itself!

About the vehicle, I have an 6 year old Indica petrol V2 apart from the XYLO and I havent driven a Innova or a Safari (had hired an Innova from Delhi to go to Narkanda and I must the 2nd row was really comfortable) so am not an authority to comment on the comparison.

But, I drove the XYLO for 16 straight hours from Mumbai to Jaisalmer without an ounce of fatigue. The car handled like dream and did very well on open highways as well as on narrow village roads, kept me real happy!
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